Committees to prepare for fall semester amid COVID-19


The Office of the Provost has convened several faculty and staff committees charged with developing recommendations for how the university will operate in the fall.

The seven coordinated committees will tackle different aspects of academic and campus planning, from instructional planning to the use of academic spaces and libraries.

Susan Collins, interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, announced the formation of the committees May 1 in a message to the university community.

“We will be working differently in the months to come but our commitment to excellence has not changed,” Collins wrote. “As we plan for the fall, we are guided by two principles: the safety and health of our community, and our long-standing commitments to academic excellence, equity, and inclusion. For the first, we rely on the counsel of public health and medical experts, and state of Michigan requirements. For the second, the knowledge and insights of our faculty are critical to the learning experiences of our students.”

President Mark Schlissel said earlier this week he remains cautiously optimistic the university will be able to deliver a public health-informed fall semester with in-person instruction.

The advisory groups include the Committee on Instructional Planning, chaired by Elizabeth Moje, dean of the School of Education. It will develop best practices for instruction in varied formats and examine how course offerings can be nimble and adjust to changing circumstances.

The Committee on Large and Foundational Courses, chaired by Tim McKay, associate dean of LSA, will develop recommendations to enhance instruction for large classes likely to continue to be taught remotely.

The Committee on Performance, Studio, and Lab Courses, chaired by Laurie McCauley, dean of the School of Dentistry, is charged with recommending creative options to address the particular challenges for teaching and learning when in-person activities are restricted.

These instruction-focused committees also are charged with gleaning lessons learned from remote courses conducted during the winter semester, as well as ensuring fall courses are delivered in an equitable and inclusive manner.

A fourth advisory group, the Committee on Space and Collections that Support the Academic Mission, will develop plans and guidelines to manage common spaces and collections in remote and restricted in-person scenarios. James Hilton, vice provost and dean of libraries, will chair the committee.

Lynn Videka, dean of the School of Social Work, will chair the Committee on Curricular Support, Extra and Co-Curricular Activities, and Engaged Learning. The group is focused on equitable access to key academic resources and developing guidelines to enhance the range of academic experiences that contribute to student learning.

A sixth group, the Committee on Graduate and Professional Students, will be chaired by Mike Solomon, dean of the Rackham Graduate School, and focus on issues unique to this student population.

Lastly, a Coordinating Committee will reconcile the recommendations of the other committees while working closely with the provost to develop campus-level principles and guidelines for the fall semester. This committee, chaired by Alec D. Gallimore, dean of the College of Engineering, will utilize public health guidance to guide the work of the other committees and make recommendations to administrators on time-sensitive matters leading up to the fall semester.

“I am grateful to work alongside campus leaders in this critical endeavor,” Gallimore said. “We are facing a highly complex and dynamic challenge that requires collaboration, creativity and determination. Together, I am confident we will succeed for our community of learners, and provide a model for peer institutions.”

In her message to campus, Collins said the committees will meet frequently in the coming weeks and make recommendations to her “as soon as possible.”

“Their work, along with the vital work being done by that of faculty and staff in the schools and colleges, will be critical to our decisions about how we will offer a Michigan education to all our students in the fall term,” she wrote. “I look forward to the ways we can work together — creatively, flexibly, and responsibly — to bring the excitement of a Michigan education to all our students.”


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